Want to impress your book club ladies? Bring them Ina Garten’s Ice Box Mocha Cake. Last Tuesday my book club discussed Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Since half the story is set in Italy, I figured Ina’s mocha cake made with Italian mascarpone cheese and espresso powder was a perfect compliment, capish? Apparently the ice box cake is something your gramma (or great-gramma?) probably made back in the 1950’s, but at that time they used wafers and non-flavored whipped cream. Ina elevates the recipe by using chocolate chip cookies and espresso powder. To describe the cake… oh boy, it’s tough to describe! It’s like the best chocolate mousse you’ve ever eaten on steroids because it has softened chocolate chip cookies absorbed into it. Cut the cake into small pieces because the richness can be overwhelming.
First things first, while you are gathering all the ingredients, place your KitchenAid mixer bowl and whisk attachment into your freezer. The chilled bowl and whisk help form the stiff peaks of the mocha whipped cream. For the espresso powder, you can either use saved, dried finely ground espresso grounds or you can buy instant espresso powder. I never knew such a thing existed. I found mine in the coffee aisle at my local Kroger.
To the chilled mixer bowl, add the heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Start your mixer on low until everything starts coming together. Slowly raise the speed until stiff peaks have formed. Don’t over mix it, as it will be more difficult to spread. The whipped cream should be spreadable.
Next, take the cookies, the best ones to use are thin and crispy, and break them so they fit into your 8″ round springform pan. There’s no getting around buying a springform pan unless you want to scoop out this cake (which is totally fine if presentation doesn’t matter to you, it will still taste amazing!). An 8″ or a 9″ pan both work just fine. Try to play a little tetris and fit all the pieces together like a puzzle.
Spread 1/4 of the mocha whipped cream overtop of the cookies. Add another layer of cookies, then more mocha until you end up with four layers with the final layer being of mocha. This past cake I only had enough cookies to make 3 layers, and for book club, 3 layers were plenty! (Ina the Overachiever makes an impressive FIVE layers.) Cover the cake with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To remove from the springform, run a knife around the edges of the pan before you unclasp the clip to loosen the cake. Remove the sides of the springform. Shave chocolate (I shaved dark chocolate with almonds) overtop of the cake. Serve with a shot of espresso, coffee, or an extra large glass of milk!
Icebox Mocha Cake
- 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 12 oz Italian mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Kahlua
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 15-20 thin & crispy chocolate chip cookies
- shaved chocolate for garnish
1. In your KitchenAid mixer with whisk attachment, add cream, mascarpone, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Mix slowly on low at first, then bring speed up to high until stiff peaks form.
2. To assemble, fit cookies into the bottom of the 8″ springform pan, breaking cookies to fit as much of the bottom of the pan as possible. Over the cookies, spread 1/4 of a layer of the mocha whipped cream. Repeat the layering process until ending with a final layer of whipped cream, resulting in 4 layers.
3. Wrap cake with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. Run a knife around the insides of the pan before removing. Shave chocolate overtop for final garnish. Serve cold.